He was in the running for MVP but was always seen as a distant third to Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning. But put him up against any defensive player in the NFL and Houston Texans stud J.J. Watt is nearly the unanimous choice for AP Defensive Player of the Year — or at least that’s what the voting says.
Watt was named the AP Defensive Player of the Year on Saturday, after a year in which he became the pulse of a devastating Texans defense. Watt came onto the scene late in his rookie season but he was all fury and force in his follow up campaign. Watt made a name for himself right away this year by harassing quarterbacks and making a habit of swatting balls at the line of scrimmage.
This kind of play earned him the nickname “J.J. Swatt” by his colleagues and analysts alike.
But one of the reasons Watt was so special to the Texans was because of the way he stepped up as a leader this season. Despite a molten hot start by the Texans, linebacker Brian Cushing suffered a brutal and senseless ACL injury in a Monday Night game against the Jets. Many people began to doubt that the Texans would be able to hold things together after this, but Watt was one of the major reasons the team didn’t fall apart.
There were rough patches for Houston during the season, but things could have been a lot worse if Watt wasn’t there to anchor the defense. He did just about everything too, from playing defensive end to sliding over to tackle and even playing receiver in the Pro Bowl.
Watt may not have been the MVP of the NFL, but he’s beyond valuable to the Texans and there isn’t a defensive player better than him in the game today — at least this season there wasn’t.